A DOG breeder who caused unnecessary suffering to 50 dogs in his care has been banned from keeping animals for five years.

Steven John Hutchinson, of Evenwood Gate, near Bishop Auckland, denied ten animal-welfare charges relating to 44 dogs and six puppies but was found guilty following a trial last month.

The charges included causing unnecessary suffering to animals and failing to carry out his duty to fulfil the needs of the animals in February and March last year.

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During the trial, RSPCA footage revealed faeces scattered across the floor of the stable-like kennels at the 34-year-old’s premise.

Darlington Magistrates Court also heard how some of the dogs were later found to be suffering from conjunctivitis, dental problems and ear infections.

At Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today, District Judge Andrew Meachin sentenced Hutchinson to a 12-month community order comprising probation supervision and a three-month curfew from 9pm to 7am.

He was also ordered to pay £1,000 prosecution costs and banned from keeping animals for five years.

Judge Meachin said: “What is regrettable is that you still adamantly deny this offence. Having heard three days of evidence you are clearly very culpable and clearly guilty to all ten matters.”

He described Hutchinson’s dog-breeding operation as “haphazard,” and generated by financial gain.

“When you set yourself up as a person breeding dogs you are taking on extra responsibilities. When you choose that kind of occupation you have to be far more careful.”

David Ward, mitigating, said: “I would like to make a formal announcement that the matter will be appealed.”